The Next Big Thing

I was invited by John Everson to participate in a blog chain titled “The Next Big Thing.” The premise is that each writer answers a series of questions about their next big project and lines up five other authors to do the same, in the hopes of encouraging people to discover the books and blogs of other authors. Below are my answers to the questions for The Next Big Thing.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
Santa Muerte, it translates into Saint Death in English.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I have written a lot about witches and witchcraft and I write a lot about Latin American superstition and folklore. In recent years, I have been following developments of the drug cartels a little closely because not only does my husband have family living in Mexico, but because Mexico is our neighbor. So, when crime picks up there it tends to flow over into our own borders. Killings attributed by the drug cartels have been quite brazen and bold and only increasing in recent years. I had heard about a young boy who was recruited by the cartels to become an assassin. I think he was fourteen years old at the time. I thought it would be interesting to write a book about how a young person deals with this world of drugs, crime, witchcraft and death.

What genre does your book fall under?
Horror, but since I do not write content that is too graphic and keep my language and sexuality at about the PG-13 rating, occasionally waving at the R rating from afar, I am often categorized as a young adult author. So, young adult.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I mentioned that the federal detective in the novel looks like an aged Antonio Banderas, so I would stick with that. I suppose he has aged a bit since he previous roles.

For the protagonist, perhaps Gilmore Girl’s Alexis Bledel. She is a Latina and not many people know that.

For the head of the cartel, and in this novel it’s a woman, I could envision Michelle Rodriguez.

Death, would appear as itself.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Ariana Molina, the daughter of Mexico’s lead criminal investigator, is a Chicago high school student struggling with visions of a veiled skeletal figure as she becomes the target of drug cartels and their black magic cult of Santa Muerte.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Santa Muerte will be published by Post Mortem Press’ young adult imprint P.Mortem’s Tall Tales.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took about a year. I was in graduate school at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the time working on an Master of Fine Art in Writing. So, between writing for that, working full-time and moving into a new house I managed to write this whenever I could. I always wrote horror for my class assignments, but I never showed anyone this work while it was in progress. I suppose I thought it was too engrossed in cartels and the occult and perhaps it would disturb my classmates and professors that I knew all of this.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m not really sure since it nods to a few different themes. While I was writing it, I was reading a lot of surrealist and classical horror fiction, as well as a lot of Neil Gaiman. So, my reading tastes within the field tend to be all over, and this book probably hints to a lot of those things.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Once I got the character in my head she wouldn’t leave and I felt frightened for her. I wanted to know how she would get out of that world. Her family was broken, her life was empty and the only thing filling it were these accursed images and people stalking her. I wrote it, I guess you could say, as a way to communicate how someone could get out of that cartel world once it takes hold of you, if leaving is even possible, and realistically leaving that world altogether in reality happens only with death.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A lot of research went into this. All of my writing is heavily research based, whether I am writing prose, poetry, experimental horror fiction or traditional horror fiction. I am a former journalist, and so research is at the base of everything I do and everything I write. If you are a news junkie then this would interest you. There are a lot of accounts that were pulled from CNN’s headlines and put into this book; how drugs are trafficked into the United States, how inner city street gangs each day are becoming more and more a part of the fabric of Mexican cartels, how the world of the cartel extends beyond just grimy backwoods deals and how they are interlaced in the political world, and of course how the occult and death manage it all.

– Cynthia (cina) Pelayo


Authors tagged:

*I am awaiting confirmation on the remaining three tagged authors’ blog sites. I will update this as soon as possible.

Brady Allen, author of the highly praised Back Roads & Frontal Lobes

Kenneth W. Cain, author of These Trespasses, Grave Revelations, Reckoning and more

Tagged by:

John Everson is a Bram Stoker Award winning author. His novels include the highly acclaimed NightWhere, The Pumpkin Man, Siren, Sacrifice, Covenant, and more.
NIGHTWHERE: It’s just a dream…or nightmare… away.

THE PUMPKIN MAN is coming…
For you!

On Facebook:

Join the Mailing List at:

Categories: Blog

Cynthia Pelayo

Cynthia (cina) Pelayo is the author of short story collection Loteria and the young adult horror novel Santa Muerte published by Post Mortem Press. Her short stories and poems have appeared in DM, Weird Year, Flashes in the Dark, SNM Horror Magazine, Seedpod, Static Movement, and more. Pelayo is the Publisher/Gravedigger of Burial Day Books and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. She is currently at work on two novels and a series of short stories and poems. You can find her on Twitter at @cinapelayo or at